Thursday, November 24, 2011

Maplewood Trash Talk

My wife and I had a small exchange, as I was trying to thaw the turkey this Thanksgiving morning. I had emphatically asked ( well, told, but that never works as everyone knows) my wife to get a small turkey, as I weary of leftovers over the next few weeks. So of course that meant she got the largest turkey we have ever had. Its part of human nature to rebel against what you are being “told” to do. It struck me as a possible explanation for the Maplewood City Council resistance to citizen outcry over the garbage hauling issue.

If the recent election is to be considered a referendum on that, as the primary issue, it was a very clear statement that more than a few people are upset and do not want the single hauler plan.

Candidate Votes Pct

Bob Cardinal
3071 30%

Marvin C. Koppen (I)
2704 26%

Rebecca Cave
2469 24%

John Nephew (I)
1981 19%

That Mr Nephew, widely regarded as one of, if not the primary, architect of the plan, fell so far out of the lead should send a clarion call for reconsideration. A call made even more emphatic when you consider that the other incumbent Marv Koppen has voiced opposition to the plan as well. Thus 81% of the vote went to candidates that were considered votes against the issue.

However the voters reaction may be against more than just the garbage issue, as the interchange between Rebecca Cave and John Nephew brought out.

At 33:20 in the full video at
Rebecca Cave: I am kind of appalled at the sitting City Council and the Mayor, that they don’t even listen to the citizens. There are 1500 cards that came through, that were asking not to do this. They didn’t look at one of them. I was there and I watched on TV from all the people, the trash haulers and the [home] owners that got up to speak. They were shutdown by our Mayor. And its really sad to see that our city’s turned out like this.

John Nephew: I think its worth reminding that there are about 38000 residents for the city of Maplewood, and 1500 don’t decide what’s best for it.

The strongly perceived implication was that John Nephew and the other City Council members do decide, and they know better than the 1500 citizens. That retort, reveals a hubris that may also have played a role in the election results. One might also want to consider that 1500 represents more than 10% of the 12,000 households of Maplewood taking the time to respond, when they have clear indication that the Maplewood City Council is not listening. If a company received even 2% product complaints, they would know they have a very serious problem.

Later in the forum a member of a Union got up and asked again:
"We have roughly 12,000 households in the city, we received 1,500 cards back on the garbage issue, that's a substantial number of people that responded ... do you believe that's a large enough number of people who deserve to have their voices heard?"

Mr. Nephew’s response  (at 89:50 in the full video) was:
An answer to the basic question, which suggests if enough people come forward and yell about something we should give them what they want?  The answer is absolutely not!
You can click here watch a 1:41 highlight video of these comments made above.

Mr Nephew also stated that he did look at the cards and sent emails to all that had added an email address. He also claimed, or implied, that many non-Maplewood residents had responded, and that many had responded positively. An argument that Bob Cardinal refutes in earlier comments. A citizen who reviewed all the cards reported that he believes there were only 25 positive (wanted single hauler), indifferent, or non-resident cards out of the 1500.

This issue comes to a vote at the November 28th 7pm City Council meeting. Mr Nephew will participate in that vote. Maplewood residents may want to attempt to still have their voice heard.  However as the Pioneer Press article reports, it may not be listened to:
11/15/2011 A motion by council member Marvin Koppen at Monday's meeting asked the panel to delay its final vote on adopting an organized hauling system until the new council is seated. But his colleagues didn't bite. That means single-provider trash service may be the wave of the future in the community.
"It's frustrating," Koppen said. "It's clear from the (Nov. 8) election what the people want, but it seemed pretty obvious last night (the other council members) aren't going to change their minds on this."

There may be some who ask, why is this issue important? You can also buy a $5 Rolex from the back of a pickup, but its not the right thing to do.  Not everything comes down to a simple matter of price. Preserving your rights and liberty to choose cannot have a price. Taking away and chipping at liberty becomes a habit that a government will find hard to break, and a citizenry hard to stop.

If the Maplewood City Council acted with wisdom, they would consider that they are members of a representative government. As such they have a responsibility to listen to the will of the people and to respect it and to vote accordingly. So when they vote through the mandate for single hauler trash collection, remember that, the next time you have an opportunity to vote on their continued service to you!

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